What I Learned From Dad
When I was a little girl, I thought that you had to go to school to learn things. Smart people went to school forever and ever and learned lots of things to make them smart. I’m sure that a lot of kids think this is true and I’m sad to say that I suspect that a lot of adults still think this is true.
My Dad, could fix just about anything. The only repair man that I ever knew existed was the TV repair man. I assumed that this was because my Dad didn’t go to TV repair man school.
As I grew up, I watched him fix cars, bikes, blenders,toasters, furnaces… you name it. I watched him build fences, furniture, and an extra room in our basement. I heard him play the guitar and the saxophone and sing beautifully, though rarely with the right lyrics.
I thought that not only must he be one of the smartest men in the entire world, but also that he must be really, really old to have gone to school for long enough to learn all of the things that he knew.
When I turned 12 and started taking band at school, Dad decided that it was time to overhaul his saxophone so that I could learn to play it.
One Saturday afternoon, I passed by the open bathroom door and found myself in total shock to see his beloved Alto sax, striped of all of it’s keys and posts soaking in the tub. I was blown away to think that he also knew how to fix a complicated precision instrument and wondered where and when he could have learned such a skill.
“Dad! How do you know how to put that back together?” I asked.
He looked up at me with that lovely mischievous smile on his face that I remember so well. He shrugged his shoulders and calmly replied, “I don’t know that I do.”
And that, was the moment I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life.
The secret to my Dad’s genius: He didn’t know anything! He tried, and if things didn’t work out, he tried something else. Fear of failure, wasn’t something that got in his way,as he didn’t expect some sort of guaranteed outcome. I understand now, that the real joy was in figuring out how to solve the problem.
Throughout my life, I have remembered this lesson many, many, times and it has served me well. Yet sometimes, I still forget. Sometimes I let the fear of not being able to figure something out stop me from trying.
We lost Dad in 2003, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. However, I try to remember that the sadness I feel over the fact that he is no longer with us is really the overwhelming feeling of love. He is no longer physically here, but his love, and wisdom and all of the joy that so many of us shared with him is something that we can carry with us forever. And for that, I am truly grateful.